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Exclusive interview - RBR's Christian Horner 08 Dec 2006

Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Sporting Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, 29 September 2006

Aside from this year’s podium finish in Monaco, Red Bull Racing have made more of an impression on paddock life than on race results. After playing host to Hollywood blockbusters like Superman and Star Wars and throwing some unforgettable parties, Red Bull hope the introduction of the RB3 in the second half of January will make for more great moments on track. Team principal Christian Horner talks about the potential of the team’s first Adrian Newey-designed car and his expectations for 2007…

Q: With the second winter test nearly over, Mark Webber has had time to become better acquainted with his new team and you with him. How is he settling in?
Christian Horner:
It was good to have Mark in the car for his maiden run with Red Bull Racing in Barcelona last week, immediately followed by the Jerez sessions, giving him excellent opportunities to familiarise himself with the team which has changed in many aspects, from when he last drove for it in its Jaguar days. He could familiarize, and evaluate the car on Bridgestone tyres, which was a significant change for all of us ahead of next year.

Q: Red Bull Racing will field two mature drivers in 2007 - quite a conventional choice considering Red Bull’s brand image. How did that happen?
We decided that continuity with David (Coulthard) was an important factor after leading the team well during the past two seasons and having been the majority points scorer. We identified Mark as a driver with relevant experience, speed and determination and a small window of opportunity presented itself during the summer and we moved very quickly to secure his services. Both drivers are extremely professional and have a wealth of experience and I am sure they will be able to extract the maximum out of what will be a significantly improved package.

Q: It was no secret that the RB2 was not the car it was supposed to be, and that over the course of the 2006 season the decision was made not to spend too much development time on that car and instead concentrate on the RB3. How is the Newey-designed car looking for 2007?
When Adrian joined the team in mid-January he immediately turned all of his attentions to RB3 and after a difficult start to the season with RB2, it became extremely apparent that to maximise our potential for 2007 we would need to transfer all our efforts as soon as possible behind Adrian’s design concept. We have a lot of strengths and depth technically within the team now, having strengthened the team considerably during the last 18 months and I am sure that RB3 will be a significant step forward from RB2.

Q: When will the RB3 be launched? And where? Can you tell us?
The car will be finished and running at the circuit in the second half of January prior to the now communal tests under the new testing agreement.

Q: What are your expectations for the new car?
We expect the car to be a considerable step forward from RB2. We are excited about our new engine partnership with Renault and feel confident in our driver line-up. However, there are some formidable opponents and it is important to keep expectations within perspective.

Q: It seems most teams feel that it will take time to adjust to their new Bridgestone tyres. How is Red Bull finding the transition?
The new tyre that we tested for the first time in Barcelona is obviously considerably different from the Michelins which we have been used to. However, with a common tyre supplier for all teams, we have a totally level playing field and we will be using the pre-Christmas tests to fully evaluate and understand the Bridgestone characteristics.

Q: When will the Renault engine be added to the test program? Will it be with the RB2, an interim car or the RB3?
The Renault engine will run for the first time in the back of an RB3. We will continue to use Ferrari engines until the end of this year.

Q: Red Bull protege Michael Ammermueller has tested for the team in Barcelona and Jerez. Are you considering signing him as a test and reserve driver for 2007, despite his recent contract to race with the ART team in GP2?
Michael is a member of the Red Bull junior team whose members we can call upon from time to time. We have been pleased with the job he has done, which is why he has been used on more than one occasion.

Q: Since Red Bull joined Formula One racing, it has surprised the paddock with its exceptionally trendy motorhomes. Have you got some surprises up your sleeve for 2007?
We’re hoping that our performance on the track will create the relevant surprises.